Christian Friedrich Zincke (c.1684-1767)
After his master, Charles Boit fled to France to escape his creditors, Zincke became the most successful enamellist in Britain. However, by the time this enamel was painted, his eyesight was deteriorating and he retired in 1746...
This impressive portrait enamel of a gentleman, traditionally identified as George William Farmer, was painted by the leading enamellist of the eighteenth century, Christian Friedrich Zincke. Zincke often used a red-hued stippling across the faces of his subjects to subtly enhance areas of pinker flesh-tones. However, in the present portrait this stippling is far more acute, allowing the illusion of light being reflected from the nose and forehead.
Born to a family of Goldsmiths in Dresden, Christian Friedrich Zincke went on to train in enamelling and was invited to England by Charles Boit (1662-1727), enamellist to William III. Boit needed assistance completing a large scale enamel commemorating the victory of the Battle of Blenheim, a commission which was never completed. Whilst working on this complicated work, Zincke became proficient enough to establish his own studio in London; his earliest known signed enamel is a portrait of Sarah Churchill, Duchess of Marlborough [Royal Collection], dating to 1711, which derives from a head and shoulders portrait by Godfrey Kneller (1646-1723).
After Boit fled to France to escape his creditors in 1714 and George II ascended to the throne in 1727, Zincke became the most successful enamellist in Britain. By the late 1720s he was extensively patronised by the royal family, and in 1732 he was made Cabinet Painter to Frederick Prince of Wales. He was well-liked by his royal patrons, particularly by George II, who, despite being famously off-hand with portrait painters, clearly admired Zincke’s craftsmanship, once commenting that his portraits were both ‘beautiful and like’.
At the time this portrait enamel was painted, Zincke’s eyesight was quickly deteriorating and in 1742 he increased his price for an enamel by 10 guineas to decrease his workload. Four years later in 1746 he had retired from enamelling and moved from Covent Garden to South Lambeth. Although, tragically, his career ended prematurely, Zincke had established himself as one of the most prolific and successful portrait enamellists of the eighteenth century by the 1740s. His work is held in a number of major national collections, including the Ashmolean Museum, the Royal Collection and the Victoria and Albert Museum.
 D. Foskett, Miniatures: Dictionary and Guide (Woodbridge, 1987), p.682.